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Old 23 April 2005, 16:58   #1
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Italian Endurance Racing - Andrea Bergamini

Italian Endurance Racing
by Andrea Bergamini

The Endurance Offshore World & European Championship developed out of the traditional World Offshore Championship (WOC) which had become focused on catamaran class races which were becoming more 'inshore' than offshore. A new series of true offshore races for monohulls was born, competing over genuine offshore courses, taking the rough with the smooth.

Most of the entrants use conventional hard hull race boats, but Italian team B& B Racing has been extremely successful in their endurance RIB -- a BWA 9000 RIB powered by twin 225 Mercury outboards. This is their story of the European and Italian Endurance Championship races 2000, as told by driver Andrea Bergamini.

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Team B& B Racing in action
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Capri - Montecarlo
The first race of the season was definitely an exciting one, with rough water and severe weather making it difficult for all of the crews. With eight teams on the starting line on the morning of Saturday, June 10 at 7:30am (CET) for this 400 NM race, only four of the teams successfully finished the race which was stopped due to the weather conditions two thirds of the way through in Viareggio.

This meant that the race results were decided on the 289 mile Capri-Viareggio stage. We came in third position overall, winning the Sport class with a time of 7 hours and 7 minutes and an average speed of 40.6 knots. We used a total of 880 litres of fuel, corresponding to 60 litres per hour for each engine.

We decided to carry on to Montecarlo anyway, and with waves up to three metres high making life very difficult, only one other boat completed the Viareggio-Montecarlo stage with us. This is one of the hardest endurance races in the world, in terms duration and difficulty. This makes the satisfaction of completing the course and winning our class even better!

Our BWA 9000 RIB has performed superbly, not least due to the fantastic reliability of the twin 225 hp Mercury EFI outboards, winning the 'Sport' class and outpacing boats in some of the higher categories with over 1000 hp!

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Montecarlo - Saint Tropez
Another difficult race. Not only was the weather uncooperative on Monday, June 12 which made the original Monte Carlo - St. Tropez - Monte Carlo race plans next to impossible, but due to unfortunate circumstances during the Corsica - St. Tropez Sailing Regatta, the complete strip of coast was closed off to all boats.

Reports from the Coast Guard on Monday morning stated that two regatta team skippers fell overboard due to high seas and rough water during the Sunday race. It is still unknown if the team members have been found but due to the search which was still taking place on Monday morning, the organisers had to improvise and restructure the race.

Team B& B Racing's BWA-ERG RIB was running well, and held the lead until one of the engines suffered from fuel starvation and stopped. The problem was quickly diagnosed as a defective emergency fuel cut-off valve which had been damaged as the RIB came down hard off the waves. It didn't take long to by-pass the offending valve, but it cost us a few minutes and eventually we had to settle for second place, behind the Sunracer of Monaco Menegatto and Giraldi Team.

Saint Felice Circeo - Pontine Islands
The final race of the 2000 season, San Felice Circeo, took place on Sunday, July 30. With a starting field of 12 boats, exceptional weather conditions and many teams with the potential to take home the title in their proper class made for an exciting close to an eventful and successful Endurance Offshore race season.

The race started in front of the of Saint Felice harbour, after it took the police half an hour to clear the start line of the myriad of spectator boats. The race boats got off to a good start, with the faster ones pulling away in the smooth sea conditions.

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Once out of the shelter of the islands conditions changed, with heavy seas causing some competitors to withdraw from the race. Team B& B decided on a tactical approach, and eased back on the throttles for a while until the conditions improved. It didn't take long, and soon the throttles were wide open again, and the BWA-ERG RIB was clawing its way up the positions to finish first in class.

This was enough to give the B& B Racing team the third consecutive victory in Italian Endurance Championship, sixth in 10 years in motorboat races. In the European championship a first place and two second places were not quite enough to beat the Menegatto-Giraldi team, but it was enough for B&B to get the satisfaction of a European silver.
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